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Lawyers: al-Qaida evidence lacking

Lawyers for five Kuwaitis freed from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, argued Sunday there is no evidence to convict their clients of joining or collecting money for al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

The lawyers told a criminal court that the Muslim fundamentalists should not face trial at home based on testimony collected at the prison in Cuba. They also questioned Kuwait’s jurisdiction to try people for actions they are accused of committing abroad.

“In this case, there are only (American) interrogations, and they can’t be considered evidence,” defense attorney Mubarak al-Shimmiri told the tribunal.

The defendants, who were returned to Kuwait in November, face 10 years in prison if convicted. The court is to announce its verdict May 21.

The five are accused of charges that include joining al-Qaida, fighting alongside Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime, which was host of the terror group, and working for Al-Wafa, an Afghan charity the United States says helped finance al-Qaida.

HEBRON, West Bank

Jewish squatters taken from home

Baton-wielding Israeli police cajoled and dragged dozens of Jewish squatters out of a three-story Palestinian-owned home Sunday, demonstrating the new government’s resolve to confront extremist settlers.

Nineteen officers and seven settlers were reported injured during a clash outside as protesters tried to keep police from entering the building. It was a scene reminiscent of violence during last summer’s forced evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In another sign of his tough approach, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet’s first session that he also will crack down on wildcat settler outposts in the West Bank that have drawn international criticism.

Olmert wants to withdraw from most of the West Bank and draw Israel’s borders by 2010, a program that infuriates settlers, many of whom view the whole territory as a Jewish biblical birthright.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Crash victims’ bodies recovered

Rescuers recovered the bodies of 10 soldiers who died in a helicopter crash while scouring remote Afghan mountains along the Pakistan border for al-Qaida and Taliban militants, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The military said Friday’s crash in a ravine – the deadliest for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in a year – was not caused by hostile fire.

The soldiers were based at Fort Drum in New York, but their names and units will not be released for several days, Fort Drum spokesman Benjamin Abel said Sunday.

Of the roughly 18,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, about half are from the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum.


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